Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Splendour in the Grass"

Amy Taubin from The Villaige Voice reviews Bedrooms and Hallways:

Warning: some very minimal but slightly offensive material is contained on the website
Just as sweet, but somewhat more sophisticated, Rose Troche's Bedrooms and Hallways is a romantic comedy about twentysomething Londoners looking for love. Leo (Kevin McKidd) and Darren (Tom Hollander) are gay flatmates whose sexual fantasies run in opposite directions. Darren's current flame is a buttoned-up real-estate agent (Hugo Weaving) who enjoys using the homes to which he has professional access as he would his own. It's cheaper than doing it in hotels and twice as kinky. The more serious Leo scandalizes the men's group he's been attending by confessing that he has a crush on one of the members, a smoldering Irish hunk named Brendan. Much to Leo's surprise, Brendan, who's in the throes of breaking up with his girlfriend (the wonderful Jennifer Ehle), proves more than amenable to a new and different adventure. The problem for Leo is that Brendan may not be able to stop at one adventure.

Smartly written by Robert Farrar and performed with considerable panache, Bedrooms and Hallways could be the pilot for a television series (a gay-friendly Friends) except that it's more chaste than some of what's on British TV (the BBC series This Life, for example). Troche, who directed the no-budget lesbian romantic comedy Go Fish, shows that she's capable of a conventional style when the occasion warrants. But Bedrooms and Hallways doesn't play by the rules when it comes to identity politics, which may be what drew Troche to the material. Like Go Fish, it suggests that there's nothing as anarchic as sexual desire, and that when it comes to love affairs, nothing is as compelling as breaking a taboo, whether cultural or personal. Bedrooms and Hallways goes a step further by proposing that the common ground between gay and straight identities is that both are mutable. Doctrinaire gays may not approve, but, honestly, c'est la vie.

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